I fully support what Lily SanGiovanni, Gaby Ferrell and Morrigan Turner are trying to achieve at South Portland High School regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. I actually applaud whatever Maine Legislature that made sure students were “not forced to say” the pledge.

Loyalty is not something that should be forced, but freely given. When “loyalty oaths” were common in some circles during the 1950s, some anti-Communist leaders believed that they did nothing to protect society because “Communists lie.”

There are so many other ways to demonstrate loyalty to one’s country – not only by voting and attending town meeting, but also by participating in civic activities such as coaching softball, tutoring, helping out in a food pantry – that simply reciting an oath pales in comparison.

Besides, what these young women are trying to do is promote freedom of thought and speech, which, frankly, is the point of democracy.

How better to demonstrate patriotism than by exercising that right? Yes, this is what people have fought for and died, both here and overseas, not for an obligatory oath. These students have learned their civics lessons well, and their teachers should be proud of them.

Allison Hepler